Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats.
####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
Surrounded by the carefully clipped hedges of a formal garden, Reynolda House Museum of American Art lets visitors contemplate canvases in the stately surroundings of a turn-of-the-century tobacco baron's mansion. Armed with personalized membership cards, members gain free admission to the museum’s permanent collection, which includes works by Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe. Gorge hungry eyes on the soulful iron-horse portraits of railroad photographer O. Winston Link, on display until June 19, or pick up pointers from the Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (October 7–December 31). Reynolda House will be the two nomadic exhibitions’ sole stop in North Carolina this year before wandering off in search of new adventure.
One of the few original theaters in Durham to remain in operation, The Carolina Theatre has endured more than 85 years of history in its quest to entertain. The venue's main room, Fletcher Hall, rose in popularity during World War II, when soldiers from Camp Butner arrived by bus to watch films on its colossal screen. In the last three decades, ongoing renovations have restored the venue to its original glory while propelling it into contemporary times with the addition of modern accoutrements, including two upstairs movie screens, stage-level dressing rooms, and landing pads on the roof for skateboard hovercrafts.
The not-for-profit Cape Fear Regional Theatre produces plays that both enlighten and educate its performers and the community at large, with an acting troupe made up of professional and amateur actors, both local and imported. Rumors, a farce by Neil Simon, centers on several posh couples gathered for a dinner party at an affluent couple's suburban mansion. When they arrive to discover the servants and the hostess have vanished, leaving behind only the host with a bullet hole in his ear, the guests decide to keep the situation on the down-low, concealing the events from the police, the media, and especially the police-media. In the midst of this, lies grow legs and escape under the floorboards, dropping from ceilings when least expected, and madcap mayhem ensues.